Wednesday, June 09, 2004

A couple of weeks ago I told you that experts quoted in The New York Times said that Jose Padilla's alleged plan to demolish apartment buildings with natural gas wouldn't work ("We would expect maybe a wall blown out, maybe a bad fire, but not a building collapse"). Now AP tells us that scientists say Padilla's other alleged terror plot wouldn't have worked either:

The "dirty bomb" allegedly planned by terror suspect Jose Padilla would have been a dud, not the radiological threat portrayed last week by federal authorities, scientists say.

At a June 1 news conference, the Justice Department said the alleged al-Qaida associate hoped to attack Americans by detonating "uranium wrapped with explosives" in order to spread radioactivity.

But uranium's extremely low radioactivity is harmless compared with high-radiation materials -- such as cesium and cobalt isotopes used in medicine and industry that experts see as potential dirty bomb fuels.

"I used a 20-pound brick of uranium as a doorstop in my office," American nuclear physicist Peter D. Zimmerman, of King's College in London, said to illustrate the point.

Zimmerman, co-author of an expert analysis of dirty bombs for the U.S. National Defense University, said last week's government announcement was "extremely disturbing -- because you cannot make a radiological dispersal device with uranium. There is just no significant radiation hazard."

Other specialists agreed. "It's the equivalent of blowing up lead," said physicist Ivan Oelrich of the Federation of American Scientists....

Is this why they've denied this guy access to due process for so long -- because it's too embarrassing to admit that he's either innocent or incompetent?

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